I Statements

A helpful technique for communicating boundaries in a way that can minimize conflict and defensiveness.

Three steps to construct your statement:

  1. When you [Describe the BEHAVIOUR]
  2. I feel [EMOTION] (See list of emotions for help choosing)
  3. Would you be willing to [Desired BEHAVIOUR]

BEHAVIOUR

Something that you can see, feel, hear, etc. Observations NOT interpretations

EXAMPLE

Your friend walks out of the room in mid-sentence while you are talking to them. You feel hurt and mad and disrespected. 

SAY IT LIKE THIS

  1. When you walk out of the room when I am talking (Yes! You are describing behaviour that you observed, not interpreting it)
  2. I feel hurt (Yes!, that is an emotion, not a thought. It is an statement about yourself, not about the other person)
  3. What would help is/Would you be willing to stay present while I am talking (Yes! You are describing the behaviour you would like to have occur)

Important! ==> The other person can respond with “YES”, or “NO”, or “I need to think about it”.

If it is a “No”, then move to the next step – you decide the consequences of this behaviour. You can go away and think about it, and now it is up to you to decide how you will deal with a negative response.

For more on this, see the Nonviolent Communication process Developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD.

A List of Emotions

sadangryscared
unhappymadfrightened
sorrowfulannoyednervous
depressedirritatedpanicky
miserablefuriousintimidated
downenragedalarmed
gloomycrossafraid
heartbrokenfrustratedfearful
devastatedvexedstartled
hurtcholericterrified
insecuresuspicioushappy
unconfidentwarycheerful
self-consciousdistrustfulmerry
unsurecynicaljoyful
doubtfuldisbelievingpleased
hesitantskepticaldelighted
timidcharygleeful
shymistrustfulcarefree
introverteddisbelievingbuoyant
unsafedubiousuntroubled
jealoushopefullove
covetousoptimisticfondness
enviousconfidentattachment
desirouspositivetenderness
insecuresanguinewarmth
protectivecheerfulintimacy
vigilantupbeataffection
anxiouslightheartedpassion
mistrustfulbuoyantdesire
resentfulexpectantlust